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September 2, 1998
(Forest Resources and Agrifoods)

Disabled Hunter Program

As announced in April 1998 by Kevin Aylward, Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, a new Disabled Hunter Program will be implemented this fall. The program will provide a mechanism whereby individuals with permanent mobility and vision impairments can meet the training pre-requisite for big game licensing, participate in the big game draw and participate to the greatest degree possible in the actual hunting activity.

New hunters who meet the requirements outlined in the Disabled Hunter Program provisions and are interested in becoming eligible for the 1999 big game licence draw must first complete an application for the Disabled Hunter Program. Applications are available at local Forestry/Wildlife Offices throughout the province. In addition, persons who have not previously completed the province's mandatory hunter training requirement must do so before the November 30, 1998 cutoff in order to qualify for the 1999 big game licence draw. Firearm Safety/Hunter Education courses are currently being offered at all College of the North Atlantic campuses across the province. Accommodations will be made within the hunter training program for persons with disabilities. While a person who is legally blind may not actually shoot his/her animal on a licence, an exemption will be provided from the standard course testing requirements which require vision. The minister said that all new hunters interested in applying for a licence in the 1999 big game draw should register for a course as soon as possible to avoid missing the cutoff.

The minister also added that persons who have previously completed the province's hunter training requirement and have received applications or licences in the past and have since become disabled may also participate in the Disabled Hunter Program. However, an application for the Disabled Hunter Program must still be completed.

Another significant provision of this initiative is a hunter assisted program which will allow a person with specific disabilities to designate a shooter. In the case of a person with permanent mobility impairments, he or she may, if they so wish, legally assign another qualified hunter to shoot a big game animal. In the case of a person who is legally blind, he or she must assign another qualified hunter to shoot a big game animal. Under both situations, the person with the disability must accompany the designated shooter to the greatest degree possible. Further details on this hunter assisted program will be published in the 1999 Big Game Licence Application Guide or are available by contacting a local Forestry/Wildlife office.

Minister Aylward said: "In developing these regulations, this government has had to be sensitive to the needs of the disabled communities without jeopardizing the integrity of our very successful wildlife management programs. This includes implications for the resource, human safety concerns, and the fair and equal treatment of all hunters. These concerns have been considered and incorporated into this new initiative. The regulations developed for the Disabled Hunter Program also recognize the desire of the province's disabled groups for inclusion rather than exemption and in no way jeopardize the safety of existing hunters."

For more information on this program, contact John Blake or Chris Baldwin, (709) 729-3509.

Media contact: Cynthia Layden-Barron, Communications, (709) 729-6183.

1998 09 02 10:55 a.m.

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